Your health and wellbeing are intimately connected to the health and wellbeing of the planet, and the WWF Living Planet Report in 2012 did say that if the rest of the world lived like Australians, we would need 3.6 Earths to sustain our total demands on nature. Turn this Christmas around by making it a sustainable one. It’s not too late to lighten your eco-footprint for Christmas Day, even if you’ve already done most of your Christmas shopping. A Sustainable Christmas is a creative one, connected to the local community, local produce, local products, and far less landfill. Now, surely that’s the Christmas present we should all be aiming for – celebrations that don’t cost the earth?
Here’s some easy ideas for a sustainable silly season you can implement right away.
THE GIFT OF GIVING
Cast your mind back to years of unwanted gifts, plastic toys, excess packaging and extra wrapping. Change it up this year with gifts of experiences. Even kids love tickets to the theatre, adventure passes, concerts and other shows. These make great gifts, and give again when you actually go to the event with them.
If a push bike as a gift encourages less driving, then give that if you can! For smaller items, shop locally and go to farmers markets to pick up an unusual present.
What might your mum or dad need, as a gift of time from you? Design a voucher listing it and give that. What gift of time might someone else in your community need instead of a present? Get creative and gift things you want to do for others.
What about other presents? How sustainable can they be? Gifting a compost bin or worm farm along with a workshop makes a wonderfully sustainable gift. Many local councils offer discounts on compost bins and worm farms when you’ve booked into an education workshop with them, so contact council and see what they can do.
Gift a tree, plants and edible flowers for the garden. Giving green can include growing a live Christmas tree in a pot (not cut or plastic), another type of tree to plant, succulents in pots, or herbs for the windowsill. You can even create potpourri bags for the underwear drawer just like years go by, using quality essential oils and dried lavender flowers.
AND THE WRAPPING?
Ah the wrapping! Here’s the fun part. It’s time to move those old, ruined clothes that still look pretty but may be too damaged for donation, out of the wardrobe. Create off cuts with some of them, for gorgeously wrapped gifts tied up with a bow. Keeping off cuts from hems, and holding onto ripped shirts and sheets make great wrapping too, and if you’re adding a beach towel or hand towel as a gift, fold it carefully then wrap it with ribbon, or wrap something into it then tie together in a bow. Consider baking something, set on a beautiful plate and wrap with a new tea towel tied up as your gift. Wrap toiletries in soft, new towels tied with ribbon. If you’re handy on the sewing machine, stitch your parcel together with old material, and if you’ve got crafty little ones around the house who love to draw or paint, ask them if you can reuse their artworks as wrapping paper, or cut together for ribbons and bows on presents as treats for family and friends.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to express your love, hand made gifts express great care. Try making something no one has the time to do anymore. My grandmother used to crochet bread bags onto coat hangers to give as presents. These are now hanging proudly in the wardrobes of my kids.
SUSTAINABLE CHRISTMAS DINNER
It’s not just about the gifts, there’s the food as well. What we choose to serve can be sustainable or not, depending on the distance the food has travelled, the amount of resources required for that food source, food wastage, packaging and disposal. First, think local and buy local, and make as much from scratch as you can.
Then, think about the meat. How much meat do you really need to serve on Christmas Day? Can you reduce it by making room for some vegetarian options? How much food is enough? How waste conscious can you be with your Christmas dinner?
If you’re not compositing or worm farming yet, and don’t have chickens, many local free range farms would be happy to take your fresh fruit and veg scraps and offer them to their chooks. Give one a call and see how you can drop fresh food scraps over instead of creating more landfill.
GIFTS FOR LOCAL CHARITIES
There are plenty of charities in need of support this Christmas, and now is the time to give. Think The Salvos, St Vincent de Paul and the local women and children’s shelters like The Sanctuary in Castle Hill and The Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Women’s Shelter. These shelters rely on your donations in order to continue providing emergency housing for victims of domestic violence and homelessness. They’re also registered charities, so any donations over $2 are tax deductible. Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Women’s Shelter says it costs $69 per day to house and feed one woman, so give generously. On their website is the Gift Card option, where you can design a card for someone that says you’ve made a donation.
Here’s some charities who would love your donations this Christmas: The Sanctuary Women’s and Children’s Shelter The Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Women’s Shelter The Hills Community Aid Information Service Lisa Harnum Foundation The Salvos Oxfam World Wildlife Fund CARE Australia Child Fund Australia Local churches and many others.
So get creative, wrap it up in style, be eco-conscious, earth loving and community minded this Christmas. Give time, give food, give love, peace and support, and always, give generously to the Mother Earth. It’s the health and wellbeing thing to do.
Kylie Terraluna is a yoga, health and lifestyle feature writer and health journalist. Kylie teaches private yoga and wellness coaching sessions, with home visits along the hills to hawkesbury region and sometimes beyond. She also runs private retreats. Kylie is the Health & Wellbeing feature writer for the Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine. For more, visit kylieterraluna.com.au.